Second Best

Disclaimer: I don't think I've ever wanted to own something more in my life. But no, I don't.

It's not like he ever really stared at her every time he tossed a slushie in her face. Right. Him? Stare? At someone like her? Please.

He just glanced at her and happened to noticed that she licked her lips that one time he tossed the grape one in her face. He didn't specifically choose grape ones after that because he knew that was her preference. Yeah, right. He just picked grape ones because they were his favourite. Just because grape was both of their favourites didn't mean anything at all. It was just a complete coincidence.

And this whole dating thing? Well, it was just to get under Quinn's skin. Not because she does look kind of pretty when her face isn't slushie filled. Or that sometimes when she talks she sounds like she's singing because her voice has this melodic kind of lilt to it.

No way.

She likes Finn anyway, and they both know that when it comes to Finn and Quinn they're always going to be second best. There's no point even trying to break them apart. Not that he could. Even though he's an awful best friend, he's not quite that bad. And Finn and Quinn have the unborn baby now. This makes him feel even worse because it's his baby. Finn is going to end up raising his baby as his own.

He is so going to hell.

He thinks that maybe this dating thing will result in Quinn realising that they might have a chance. He clings onto this chance. The same way that Rachel is clinging onto her chance with Finn. They're both using one another in the end. It's the truth and they both know it, regardless of whether it's spoken out loud or not.

Even so, he has to admit that it is kind of nice when she calls him Noah. Only his mother ever calls him that, but something about it sounds especially nice when it's coming from her mouth. It makes him feel, in a weird way, special. Because to everyone else he's Puck, but to her his Noah.

Not that that means anything.


She watches Finn in the hallway, walking with Quinn, holding her books, touching her, kissing her, and it makes her feel sick. Most of the time she wants to cry, but she can't let that sort of thing get to her. When you're a star you have to be able to handle these kinds of things. How will she ever be able to deal with critisism if she can't even get over an immature little school girl crush. Because that's all it is. She's sure of it.

So she's surprised when Noah takes her books from her without her even asking. Carrying them as though it's something that he does everyday. Something that's become a normal thing for the both of them when it sure as hell never was.

Who knew he could be that...considerate?

He doesn't say anything about it, just moves on while she follows along behind him. She steals a glance behind her to Finn and Quinn, to see that Finn is looking at them both with a confused expression on his face. She smiles.


She's stopped cringing whenever he brings her a slushie. Even though they're supposed to be dating, the first few times he came by with one, she'd flinch, probably afraid that he was going to forget everything and throw one in her face like always.

Instead he gives them to her in a cup. In her hand. Not on her face.

This is only because it's the kind of thing a boyfriend does. Are they even considered boyfriend and girlfriend yet? Where are they on the relationship scale? It hasn't been all that long, right?

Then he remembers that he doesn't care. Of course, he doesn't care. And he's just letting moronic thoughts occupy his brain. What does he care where he and Rachel Berry stand? It's not like he's dating her for her, right?

But it's still the last thought on his mind before he goes to sleep.


She doesn't know why she calls him Noah, she just does. Maybe because Puck always reminds her of the fairy in A Midsummer Night's Dream, and Noah's just a lot more stable of a name. It's grounded. And it fits him. And it's a nice name.

She tells him that he has a nice voice. She mentions that it is a bit pitchy at times, but makes sure to tell him that she can help him with that. As a performer she knows that you need encouragement. Performers feed off encouragement, and she's not sure if anyone's ever told Noah how nice his voice is before.

He nods at her remark, and she's so sure that he's sweeping everything she's saying under a rug, until she sees the hint of a smile gracing his face.

So he does care.


He finds that he likes when she blabbers on about the newest Broadway musical she's attended. Or the newest song that she's been rehearsing. He doesn't exactly understand it all - what's the fuss? - but it's funny how she's passionate about all of that. Endearing, almost.


He doesn't know when he started using words like 'endearing', but it has to be because of Rachel. She's turning him into some kind of...girl.

And the strangest part is that he doesn't mind.

Rachel Berry does weird things to him.


She finds it kind of funny when he dances. His suggestive moves and the wink he sometimes flashes at her make her blush.

She doesn't look at Finn so much anymore.

There's the occassional peek, he always looks at her with a peculiar expression on his face, but it's not an obsession like it used to be. It still hurts to see him with Quinn, but now it's more like a mild pang in her heart. She realises that this is something that she has to overcome, because Finn and Quinn are never going to break up.

Noah holds her books everyday now. She never asks, he just grabs them, and she always lets him.

She finds it amusing when she talks about her favourite musicals and he gives her that confused expression. Like he has no idea what she is talking about - he probably doesn't - but she likes how he never tries to interrupt her. Never tries to ignore her. Just lets her drone on about her infactuation with the stage.

It's a nice feeling being listened to.


Rachel Berry has an addiction to grape slushies. This makes him feel a little guilty, because he was the one that introduced them to her, but at the same time, there's something Rachel Berry sucking on that slushie straw, that all that guilt is just washed away instantly as soon as she has a grape slushie in her hand.

He'd never thought that Rachel Berry and hot could ever go together in a sentence, but he finds that now he can't seperate the two, because Rachel Berry is hot. And that only sums up her looks. There's so much more to her than he ever expected.

He likes discovering new things about her, and he never really thinks about Quinn much anymore.


She might like him. A little bit.

But it's not like he would ever really like a girl like her. Yeah, she's a star, and she knows that eventually she will get used to the masses of people that are going to love her, but in all honesty, she's still in high school, and she's not the superstar that she's going to be yet. And he's sill hung up on Quinn, because Quinn is perfect, and pretty, and popular. They would look good together.

And she feels like she's losing another boy she likes all over again.

Because Rachel Berry is pretty.

But Quinn Fabray is beautiful.


He takes her to see a musical, because that's the type of thing that she likes. He's not so sure about it, but he likes the way she lights up when the music starts, the way her eyes shine when the performers start dancing. He ends up watching a whole lot more of Rachel Berry then the musical. But he doesn't mind, because Rachel Berry is a lot more fascinating to him.

And he thinks it would be easy to like her.

Really like her.

Maybe even more.


She thinks that this hurts a lot more. The not-knowing-whether-he-could-ever-like-her-back thing that's constantly at the forefront of her mind.

At least when it was Finn she liked she wasn't dating him. Or pretend dating. Or...whatever they're doing because she doesn't know what this is anymore, and it frustrates her to no end.

This is usually about the time when she'd ask him outright. She's a bold girl, she always has been, but every time she opens her mouth she can't get it out.

She knows the answer anyway.

But it breaks her heart just the same.


He doesn't see her so often anymore.

She disappears behind her schedule, always practising new songs for Glee. He calls her up a couple of times, and her dads always inform him that she's not in, or that she's sleeping, but he knows better.

He tries to corner her in the hallway, but she just gives him some lame excuse about having to rehearse with Finn some new song she's doing.

She doesn't even sing her songs aloud for him anymore.

And it stings a lot more than he thought it would.


She has to focus on her future stardom. She doesn't need distractions, like boys, holding her back. Romance can wait, because romance is, and never will be, her first priority.

It's what she has to sacrifice in order to pursue the life she's pursuing.

She decides that she will tell him this tomorrow. She can't keep up all the pretending, especially when she's not sure where the line between pretend and real is anymore.


His eyes search for her everyday he walks into Glee. She's avoiding him, trying to stay as far away from him as possible.

It creates a sick, swirling feeling in his stomach.

He doesn't know what they are anymore. Not that he ever knew, but now everything's much worse, because it's all screwed up, and wrong, and he cares.

Caring makes it so much worse.

And he's never felt more lost in his life.


She meets him at his locker after glee, and she can see the surprise written on his face. It makes her feel guilty because she should have done this a long time ago. Ended their...whatever it is...when her longing for Finn stopped. She doesn't know why they were still doing that. Hanging out? Pretending to date? Being friends?

All she knows is that it needs to stop, because she doesn't want to be just friends, and she doesn't want to mess up his life. A high maintenance girl like her would only get in the way of his own dreams. They both have different goals in life, and being together means that they might not be able to complete them.

Even so, when she gets the words out, she feels like somone's just stomped all over her dreams.

Singing doesn't quite have the same attraction anymore.


He's annihilated.

There's no other way to describe the conflicting emotions going through him right now. He hates how he let this get so far. When did he start developing feelings for Rachel? And, more importantly, how did it happen?

The last question is a lie, of course. He knows.

Who wouldn't fall in love with her?

He's always been a different-girl-every-night kind of guy.

But when it comes to Rachel Berry, everything is messed up, and his rules don't apply.

And he hates it.


The first thing she hears when she walks to her locker is that Quinn Fabray's pregnant.

It's old news. Everybody knows it. So she moves on, spins the combination of her locker, opens the door and takes out her books.

Then she hears the second part.

It's Puck's baby.

She breaks down.


He's hunched over, hands on head, sitting in the auditorium when he sees her.

Her eyes are kind of red from crying, and he knows that she knows the truth. Everyone knows the truth.

He wants to say something but he doesn't have the words. It's weird because normally he'd have some smart retort prepared in advance. Some joke he could make about this whole situation. Something that would make her blush because, god, he wants to see her blush again.

But there's nothing but silence. She doesn't need to say how much she misses him, he already knows.

And he senses her inching closer to him, reaching over, and touching his hand. Gently.

She's the only person who's ever seen him cry.


She's not going to pretend that she's ok with it. Yes, it pierces her. It squeezes her heart.

But she knows that Noah's her friend.

And that's more substantial than any pain she might feel.


She starts humming again, and he's so happy he could scream.

But he doesn't. Because he's Noah Puckerman, and Noah Puckerman doesn't scream.

He does smile, though. It may not be singing just yet, but it's only a matter of time.

His heart beats extra fast just for her.


She loves when he plays with her hair. He does it absentmindedly, not even realising what's he's doing most of the time.

Sometimes he even grazes the side of her face with his hand when he tucks the strands behind her ear.

It makes her shiver.


They don't need words to express the way they feel about each other. Sure, she still drones on about her love of theatre, and sure, he still doesn't understand it, but they both know that everything's shifted, and everything is starting to make some kind of sense.

He doesn't know when fantasy merged into reality.

But he does know that when he kisses her, it's Rachel Berry and Noah Puckerman kissing. Not the wannabe star and the high school jock. Not even the two Glee members. It's Rachel and Noah, and nothing's ever felt so right.

Being second best has never felt so good.

A/N: Who doesn't love Puck/Rachel? Glee has completely won me over with the awesomeness that is Puck/Rachel. This was kind of hard to write considering I was studying for an Accounting exam at the same time, but feedback is always appreciated :)